Hard and soft infrastructure needed to boost Myanmar trade with neighbours to the west
MM Times, June 15, 2018
Development of soft and hard infrastructure is needed to boost trade between Myanmar and its western neighbours – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal – which at the moment lags behind trade with China and Southeast Asian countries according to government, business leaders and experts.
India’s Ambassador to Myanmar Vikram Misri said that it is not enough to focus on building “hard infrastructure of transport corridors like roads, bridges, ports” and others to move trade forward.
“It is also important to supplement hard infrastructure with soft infrastructure like trade facilitation agreements, border infrastructure, border-crossing agreements and motor vehicle agreements that enable both passengers and cargo traffic to move between countries,” he said during a recent meeting of senior Myanmar officials, businessmen and international experts in Nay Pyi Taw.
The meeting, “Creating an Enabling and Inclusive Policy and Political Economy Discourse for Trade, Transport and Transit Facilitation in and among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Myanmar,” was organised by Marketing Research and Development in partnership with India’s Consumer Unity & Trust Society International.
Aside from developing hard and soft infrastructure, the participants also outlined the different issues that impede trade and connectivity between regional countries, such as security issues on the Myanmar-India border.
The participants also noted some development projects that have potential to promote connectivity between Myanmar and its western neighbours, such as the Kaladan multi-model transit transport project, which could become an alternative corridor between Myanmar and India if completed, and the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway which is under development.
They also underscored the need for Myanmar to come up with a policy for cross-border transport agreements with Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal, similar to the plan for the Greater Mekong Subregion or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations framework.
Likewise, they stressed the need to strengthen bilateral relations between Myanmar and Bangladesh in terms of trade and connectivity, as well as the need to pour development initiatives in Rakhine State.
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